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©2019 Rachel Burkum

Life Lessons from Coloring

April 15, 2019

I like to color. Don't judge me. It's actually quite a popular pastime as of late. I've been amazed at how many people talk about enjoying their "adult coloring books." Why not? I've always loved coloring! It takes away stress and lets the creative juices replenish in a puddle of easy-going daydreaming.

 

Recently, a friend (also an avid colorer) gave me a beautiful canvas, filled with the dainty outlines of plants and flowers. The lines were so dainty in fact, that I almost feared starting the project. Thankfully I had some very thin markers for just such an occasion. As I made the first mistake though, I cringed. It couldn't be erased. As the ink bled out further than anticipated, my cringe became a grimace. As I tried to "fix" said mistakes (which only made things worse) my grimace became a scowl. Maybe this hadn't been such a good idea after all. I accidentally let my marker touch a bare spot on the canvas - great. I tried to cover up a less-than-desirable color with another color - which created a new color... one that resembled a rotting peach. I tried to be creative and use only a certain set of colors - except for when I didn't. This was not turning out at all how I'd envisioned.

 

Well, my determination won out, and after months (hey now, I took a lot of breaks in there) of labor, I had finally filled in each tiny shape. It was almost midnight, but I'd done it! And as I sat back, sighed in satisfaction and looked over my masterpiece... all I could see were the blemishes. The smears. The unintentional marks. The wrong colors. The blotches. I knew that no one else would notice half of them, especially from a distance (heck, even I'd have to squint if I was standing a few feet away), but in that moment when I should have felt triumphant, all I felt was despair. I hadn't done a good enough job. I wasn't a good enough user of markers. I wasn't... perfect.

 

I've decided to hang the canvas on my wall. Probably my living room wall, where me, my cats, and any visitors will be able to see it clearly. Why? Because in spite of my insecurities, I know that those little blemishes do not make up what that picture means to me. The smears don't take away the joy of receiving the project from my friend. The spots where ink bled out don't remove the fact that I had so much fun coloring the piece. The mistakes I made don't negate my ultimate satisfaction of completing the intricate patterns. This picture, as it is right now, represents a pastime I enjoy very much - "mistakes" and all. (Perhaps... I need to hang a snapshot of this canvas on my bathroom mirror as a reminder of these very principles.)

 

My only problem now is this terrible desire to do another one of these canvases...

 

 

 

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